Hi everyone . I hope everyone had a great weekend. We went to my old school’s fair. I haven’t been in forever! My mom, Andrew, and I had a blast watching Isaac have a blast. He rode the carousel a couple of times, danced to music, and then he and I shared a burger. It was fun to get out and do something different, and the weather has been so nice.
So I’m sure by now, you’ve heard about the Listeria breakout. I wasn’t going to post about it, but it looks like the outbreak has gotten worst so I decided to take the time to explain what exactly Listeria is and what to look out for.
Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that can get into our foods and when eaten, can cause what is known as listeriosis. Listeria is resilient because unlike some other bacteria, it can grow at refrigerated temperatures. However, it is killed off with cooking. So where is this bacteria most commonly found? It can be found in many raw foods (such as fruits and vegetables), uncooked meats, soft cheese, hot dogs, deli meat, and even packaged products sold at deli counters. It is also found in ready-to-eat, processed foods that were contaminated after cooking but before packaging.
Listeriosis is a very serious condition! Those most at risk include older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and those with weakened immune systems. So what are the symptoms of listeriosis? Fever and muscle aches are common, as well as diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems. Pregnant women usually experience mild flu like symptoms, however, the infection can actually spread to the fetus causing miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or even a life-threatening infection of the newborn infant. Other than the symptoms mentioned above, those infected may also experience stiff neck, loss of balance, and headaches. It is possible to not have symptoms until up to two months after eating the infected food.
This particular outbreak is linked back to whole cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado. As of yesterday morning, 100 people have been infected across 20 states. 18 deaths have been reported. The CDC is recommending not to eat any cantaloupe from Jensen Farms OR if you’re not sure where it came from. This is particularly important for pregnant women and those at high risk. If you know where the cantaloupe came from, and it’s not Jensen Farms, than it is ok to eat.
It’s important to know that cantaloupe is NOT the only food that can cause listeriosis (as mentioned above). And that Listeria monocytogenes is not the only food borne pathogen out there. Here are some tips that you and your family should always follow to prevent listeriosis:
- Rinse all raw produce thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting, or cooking. Even if the produce will be peeled, it should still be washed first.
- Using a clean produce brush, firmly scrub produce with tough skins, such as melons and cucumbers.
- Always separate uncooked meat from fresh produce, cooked foods, or ready to eat foods.
- Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
- Check your refrigerator temperature. Although L. monocytogenes can grow in the refrigerator, it should still read 40 degrees or less.
- Thoroughly cook all meats to a safe temperature.
If you (such as pregnancy) or your child is at a high risk, here are tips that you should follow:
- Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, deli meats, or fermented or dry sausages unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.
- Avoid getting fluid from hot dog and lunch meat packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces. Wash hands after handling these foods.
- Read labels! Do not eat refrigerated pâté or meat spreads from the deli counter or from the refrigerated section of the store.
- Do not eat soft cheese such as feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, brie, Camembert, or panela unless it is labeled “MADE WITH PASTEURIZED MILK.”
- Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish or it is a canned or shelf-stable product. These are often labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.”
I know this is a lot of information, but as I said before, this listeriosis outbreak has been deadly. And although we always think that it can’t happen to us, there are so many other foodborne illnesses to avoid as well.
I hope you have a great week. And thanks for reading!